Scandals and Snobbery at Downton Abbey

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Photo: Carnival

Why this period drama is worth binging on— in style, of course

I knew I was watching too much Downton Abbey when my thoughts started to acquire a British accent. I’m sure other pretentious non-Brit Downton fans experienced the same.

Downton Abbey is a multi-awarded British TV series that ran from 2010 to 2015. Written by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), it follows the life of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, who all live at a majestic Jacobethan castle, Downton Abbey, with a story spanning 1912-1926.

Only a few days ago, it was announced that filming of a Downton Abbey movie will begin next month. For sure, interest in the series will leap again. I’m going to get my accent back.

Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) are one of the central couples in the series. Photo: Nick Briggs

So what’s the big deal about Downton?

Dame Maggie Smith — Professor McGonagall — stars as the indefatigably wry, prim, and sagacious Dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Violet. I haven’t seen much of Smith’s other work except in the Harry Potter films, but it is in Downton Abbey where she, in true Violet fashion, barges into your consciousness and dominates it. All her lines are delivered with perfect comedic timing. Sometimes I imagine myself having tea with Lady Violet: I’d sizzle in her gaze like sauteed onion.

Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) is the prudishly wry matriarch of the Crawley family. Photo: Carnival

As a period drama, it’s a fascinating glimpse into an era we secretly miss. A time when people worshiped etiquette and chivalry. A time when people strove to show their dignity and their respect for others through what they wear. One striking feature of that period is how servants — particularly butlers, valets, and footmen — dressed up almost as well as their masters. As Downton’s butler, Carson, would say, that is how families distinguish themselves as noble, that even their servants reflect their glory.

Everything is in apparent order downstairs, thanks to the strictness of butler Charles Carson (Jim Carter). Photo: Gary Moyes

The characters (dozens of them!) are memorably endearing. Aside from Lady Violet, there’s her son, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), the Earl of Gratham, and his American wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern). They have three daughters, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), and Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay). Season 1 begins with the family discovering the fate of the Titatic — Robert’s heir presumptive (and Mary’s second-cousin and fiance) had been in it. And so enter the Crawley’s middle-class distant relatives Matthew (Dan Stevens) and his mother, Isobel (Penelope Wilton), who definitely provide more texture to the drama.

And then there are the “downstairs” people, the servants, who lead lives as interesting as those upstairs. Carson (Jim Carter), the strict family butler, is the literal big boss, assisted by the stoic head housekeeper, Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan). They keep the household in order. But sometimes they have to keep their own employees in order, too, including rebellious head footman Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) and his partner-in-crime Miss O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran). And, of course, the Abbey has love teams: Mary and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), Sybil and chivalry-incarnate Tom Branson (Allen Leech), and Mary’s personal maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Robert’s valet John Bates (Brendan Coyle).

John Bates (Brendan Coyle) is the valet who ends up marrying head maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt). Photo: Nick Briggs

The series offers an intriguing contrast between the aristocrats and their servants and a perspective on how they ultimately are similar. Whether upstairs or downstairs, life is always rife with scandal and friendship and conspiracy and love. Perhaps the entire range of storylines in an effective dramatic series are explored here: deceptions, betrayals, trysts, verbal wars, actual wars, deaths. It’s feels galore.

The Crawley family and some of their servants. Photo: Carnival

Finally, Downton Abbey gives insights into how the social conditions of the time affected the characters’ lives. You’ll empathize with Mary, who has to figure out if she could marry Matthew, who is from a class lower than hers and is supposed to inherit what could have been hers by the fact that she’s the eldest child of the dower! (In the UK, only male heirs could inherit titles and properties of aristocrats.) You’ll find the dawning of feminism and moderate liberalism among the Crawley ladies encouraging, especially when Sybil motivates a maid to pursue her dreams of becoming an office clerk. You’ll also find how compassion and delicadeza are used when dealing with a homosexual scandal at Downton. Overall, the series provides a look into the transition from the stringent, prudish attitude of the 19th century to the modern, more libertarian mentality of the 20th.

Official teaser image for the Downton Abbey movie

Unfortunately, Downton Abbey isn’t available on Netflix. But it is on PBS Passport and Amazon Prime (and other sources *wink wink*). And while you probably don’t have to watch all 6 seasons to appreciate the movie, you’ll still miss one-fourth of your life if you don’t.

Try it. If it’s not your cup of tea or you don’t have time, don’t blame yourself. After all, as Lady Violet would say:

“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s so middle-class.”

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Obliger, Upholder, Questioner, Rebel — what are you?

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

How to deal with people using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework

People are different. Let’s say you’re a boss. Some can obey your orders like little angels, especially if you give them deadlines. Others struggle, unless you can justify your demands with graphs and tables and perhaps pages-long appendices. And then there are those who simply disobey, or loaf, no matter what you do.

It can be frustrating.

Bestselling author and lawyer Gretchen Rubin has an explanation. In her book, The Four Tendencies, Rubin proposes there are four basic Tendencies by which people can be described. And these are based on how people respond to inner expectations (like New Year’s resolutions) and outer expectations (say, rules and doctor’s orders).

Adorably obnoxious Upholder Dr Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) is a riot in The Big Bang Theory.

Upholders are the demigods, who can meet both inner and outer expectations. Hermione Granger is obviously an Upholder. So is Sheldon Cooper. They’re those whom all the other Tendencies often want to become: after all, Upholders are usually the overachievers, who can automate their actions and, presumably, their success. But they can be insensitive pricks.

Bureaucrat Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is a disgruntled Questioner in Parks and Recreation. (UPDATE: Or maybe he’s a Rebel — because Tammy.)

Questioners are the Grand Inquisitors. They need information, justifications, before they can act on any external demand. They question traditions, customs, imposed company “cultures”. While they often can stick to their gym schedule (that is, meet inner expectations), they often can’t abide by gym rules (outer expectations). They ask, “But why, smartass?”

Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is a classic Obliger, with a great responsibility and a weak will (although you can argue that the One Ring is simply too seductive…and precioussssss).

Then there are Obligers, who comprise the majority of people. They are the angels I was talking about, the loyal servants, who can turn in work on or before the deadline. They’re often the ones who had invited you to be their gym buddies, the ones who struggle unless they have someone to be accountable to. They are those who can work best when they have to give their work to someone who can appreciate it. And they suck at resolutions no matter what day of the year it is. They meet outer expectations, but resist inner ones. They can also be the parent-figure kind of leader. The curious thing about Obligers, however, is that they can rebel when pushed to the brink — they can shut down or quit unexpectedly.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Norse god of mischief, is clearly a Rebel.

And then, finally, there are the Rebels, who struggle with both inner and outer expectations. You can’t bother them. They obsess over freedom. They act only when they know it’s what they want: anything another person tells them to do, they do the opposite. If this describes you, though, don’t panic. On the plus side, Rebels are often those who initiate refreshingly unorthodox solutions…like creating some new procedure, a new design, a new system; or quitting altogether.

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Rubin says no one Tendency is superior to another; it’s just that each is different, and each has pros and cons. So don’t tell me you’re an Obliger who wants to be an Upholder. I’ve been there. Accept, don’t resist. Instead, work on your strengths to get around your weaknesses.

And yes, boss, there are ways to get a Questioner, or even a Rebel, to obey your orders. You just have to know their Tendency quite well. So if your employees are all Questioners (heavens forbid), it is likely that they’d want you to provide the reason for reducing costs for office stationery. Or if they’re a Rebel, communicate in such a way that their freedom to do things is highlighted. First, inform them about your demand, justify yourself, provide possible scenarios if they won’t do what you’re asking them, and then stop: let them decide what to do (hopefully it’s similar to your would-be command!).

When I read The Four Tendencies, it almost felt like a sequel to the Book of Revelations. I connected the dots. Patterns emerged. People, as well as myself, became a little bit simpler — all while retaining their uniqueness, nuances, beautiful differences, and individuality as persons.

Take this quiz to know your Tendency.

There’s a lot in Latin

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Why a “dead language” is worth studying or getting familiar with

Many people call Latin a dead language — as dead as its foremost perpetuator, the Catholic Church, which is 1 billion strong and 2,000 years old.

What these fools don’t get is the fact that many English words actually are Latin or have Latin roots. And often, when coining new words, people still use Latin morphemes (word components) without being aware of it: Brexit, social media, bullet journal, vape, app.

Like it or not, Latin is here to stay. And learning it — even just a bit — is going to make you perceive literature and life as more interesting.

Five of the many benefits of learning Latin are the following:

  • You’ll find stories behind the words you use. Take the word “baccalaureate”. It’s from the Latin term for laurel berry. In the 17th century (when “baccalaureate” was first used), laurel leaves used to be awarded to scholars — like ancient Olympic champions. Romantic nerds.
  • You’ll find it easier to guess the meaning of unfamiliar, Latin-derived words. Like, did you know the meaning of “antebellum” the first time you encountered it? Maybe not. But if you had elementary Latin, you’ll know that ante means “before” and bellum means “war”. So antebellum means before the war (particularly the American Civil War — Murica is such a fan of Latin — check their motto).
The Latin inscription above the Pantheon entrance in Rome is a display of hubris. It says, “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this.” Photo by Jessi Pena on Unsplash
  • You’ll be able to create new words with panache — just string relevant Latins words together and voila, verbum novum.
  • You’ll be able to connect to a time long gone, when Latin was the official language of the pious and the powerful. It still amazes me to know how, in praying the Angelus in Latin, one actually echoes the exact words of various Medieval and Renaissance popes and paupers.
  • Last but not least: you’ll feel intelligent. Newton-smart. BDE-level confident. But of course you won’t be flaunting your knowledge all the time. You’ll have to wait for opportunities, like being assigned to give the Word of the Day in a Toastmasters meeting; or look for subtle ways, like writing about your supposed Latin-savvy in one of your blog posts. Ouch.

So those are my top 5 reasons Latin is an interesting subject.

Yeah. It’s nerdy as heck. You can actually just forget I said those. Because, really, Latin can absolutely be useful in only one catastrophic situation: when the cab driver refuses you a ride, and all you can do is scare the hell out of him by rapidly reciting some Latin words and make him think it’s witchcraft.

Angels and Demons and Popes

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Sculptures at the Trevi Fountain. Photo by Ivan Bertona on Unsplash

Why Rome should be on your bucket list

Recently I watched Angels and Demons (2009), Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestselling novel. It’s tolerable. Tom Hanks as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is bland — but then we don’t really care, because Langdon isn’t the reason Angels and Demons is remarkable: it’s the fact that the story is set in the culturally rich city of Rome.

I’ve been to Rome once, in 2007, and I still get violently nostalgic and paralyzing daydreams of my visit there. It was there that I realized what a paradoxical city Rome is, and how it should be part of anybody’s bucket list.

St Peter’s Basilica. Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash

It is a melting pot of cultures. For conservatives, it is of course the epicenter of faith (and power): it’s where the Pope lives (well, technically, no; but Vatican City and Rome are geographically too close and confusing that you can say the Vatican is Rome). It’s also a place where there’s a church in every corner, with artworks by Renaissance masters as well as relics of saints. And for liberals, it is a hub of freedom and license — even the birthplace and home of bacchanalia.

So it is perfectly normal to smell incense inside Santa Maria del Popolo one moment, and then fumigation-level cigarette smoke in the next, as you exit. Don’t be surprised to see couples smooching down Circo Massimo’ sloping fields…after your short walk to the Basilica of St John Lateran. And don’t forget: that Roman air you’re breathing? — it’s infused with essences from laws enforcing divorce, abortion, and euthanasia. All this contrast and heterogeneity is, for me, strangely…beautiful. It echoes words from St Paul’s letter to (precisely) the Romans:

Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.

Also, Rome is a city-size “museum”. Once you’re there, you won’t really absolutely need to enter any museum, because there are museum-level sights even if you are outdoors: Castel Sant Angelo, the Colosseum, Piazza Spagna, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, even the Tiber River. Just get a good Internet connection and consult Google Maps and Wikipedia entries about the places you’re visiting (but don’t believe Wikipedia too much — it’s like your regular tour guide who mixes facts and rumors).

Castel Sant Angelo along the Tiber River. Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash

But by saying “Rome is in itself a museum”, I’m not saying “don’t go to museums”! The most cherished treasures still are in well guarded enclosed rooms, most famously the Vatican Museums (again, I’m considering the name “Rome” quite loosely here).

A visit to the Vatican Museums is worth the queues and the euros. Inside you’ll find roomfuls of masterpieces, including those by three of the four Ninja Turtles: Raphael, Leonardo, and Michaelangelo (Donatello has a ciborium at St Peter’s Basilica, though). The most overwhelming part of the Vatican Museums tour is certainly the climax — the Sistine Chapel. Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment and the Biblical scenes on the chapel’s ceilings are simply dazzling. From afar, the characters seem alive and three-dimensional. This part of the tour is best when there are few visitors — when you can dare lie on the floor and marvel at the famed ceiling…and the fact that this very room has produced popes in the last 500 years.

Sistine Chapel ceiling. Photo by Aaron Logan on Wikimedia

For me, however, the foremost reason Rome is just absolutely #1 on my bucket list is this: it’s the center of Catholicism, the Pope’s home (don’t get me started on the jurisdiction stickler-talk). If you can, visit Rome during Holy Week. Nothing beats an Easter Vigil Mass with no less than the Pope at St Peter’s Basilica. In the darkness of that Holy Saturday at St Peter’s 11 years ago, I shuddered thinking about the tumultuous history of the Church, filled with sinners and saints; the unbroken succession of 266 Bishops of Rome, from Peter to Francis; the many artists and intellectuals who have drawn inspiration from this timeless city aptly called Eternal; and, of course, how Robert Langdon, the boring symbologist, saved the day, again.

Dear Government, this is how to make our daily commute less hellish

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Photo by Bash Carlos on Unsplash

10 suggestions harassed commuters secretly love

Because I hate Grab’s monopolizing schemes, I now advocate other means of public transportation.

But Metro Manila’s public transpo situation is, of course, the one you can expect in hell.

So, for whatever it’s worth, here are 10 suggestions on how government and operators can make the daily ride through hell less infernal.

  1. Make the damn elevators and escalators work. The least one can do to alleviate train riders’ sufferings is make them climb less. And don’t tell me they’re down for some “maintenance work”. Maintenance work for over six months? That’s not “work” — that’s retirement.
  2. Make the damn AC work. Precisely one of the reasons people would rather choose the long queues at train stations is the temporary comfort they’ll get once they’re inside the train — or so they expect. Because, no, the trains are often without air-conditioning that the windows are sometimes opened just to let oxygen in.
  3. Make a map of all jeepney routes and publicize it. Something like the famous Vignelli subway maps — color-coded, geometric, simple. This would help people (including tourists) to plan their trips around the city.
  4. Create co-working-space buses. This idea I got from a fellow Toastmaster, Mark Escay. If we are going to get stuck in traffic for three hours anyway (that’s six hours per day!), why not ride a (presumably premium, members-only) bus with wifi connection, poufs, cacti, coffee, and doughnuts? You’ll get some work done while on the road. (Though, frankly, I wonder why some people need to go to the office when their jobs are already digital.)
  5. Make the tricycles larger. It is dehumanizing to crouch so low and consider it “sitting”. I mean, pigs and chickens have better lot when transported to their slaughterhouse — at least they’re standing with dignity. And get those trikes some extra headroom: nobody wants to get out of them with souvenir concussions.

Now, a short disclaimer, what follows are suggestions which some may find offensive, but actually secretly love with all their hearts:

  1. Ban standing when riding the bus. This would alleviate unnecessary guilt by seated men in this age of gender equality.
  2. Create extra-fast lanes in train stations. I’m thinking slides. So aside from elevators and escalators (and stairs), there should be slides as well, for the chronic latecomers.
  3. Explore installing ziplines along train lines. These are for the daredevils who are late for work.
  4. Devise fart-bombs (FBs) to be used by commuters who are denied rides by taxi drivers. Make the FBs small enough for them to drop in the cab’s back seat as they — denied but undefeated — rush out and look for cover.
  5. Put spikes that automatically emerge on the edges of pedestrian lanes whenever the red light is on. This would discourage motorists from obstructing the crossing pedestrians.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Why I love Toastmasters

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The best part of organizing speech contests…is not being a contestant 😝 Photo: Zarah Francheska Sy

“It’s an elitist boys’ club that just tries to improve themselves.”

This was how one of the professors I looked up to described Toastmasters — and I thought she was among the intelligent ones who’d do their research first before voicing out conclusions. (She has since descended to a much lower level in my opinion.)

Truth is, Toastmasters is far from being elitist — though certainly there’s a club named Elite and, considering world population, the organization could indeed be deemed elite. Nor is it just for boys: it’s actually for everyone 18 years old and above. I noted a profound prejudice in that professor’s remark. Not worth my time arguing with.

My team once conducted a training on delivering humorous speeches and evaluation speeches. See that range of people who want to become better professionals! Photo: Bruno Tangangco

One thing the professor got right, though, is the fact that well meaning individuals do try to improve themselves at Toastmasters — a motive no less noble than loving someone.

I know, right, I’m triggered! Because, really, Toastmasters — despite all its imperfections (reality check: nothing’s perfect) — is something lovable. Let me tell you a love story:

I first heard about Toastmasters back when I was in Opus Dei (another organization that same professor is so biased against lol — she hates everyone). Someone was teaching us public speaking and he was noted to be a Toastmaster. Like, people hire him to give toasts at VIP banquets?? I remember myself thinking.

Fast forward four years, 2014, and I was attending my first Toastmasters meeting, at Maharlika Toastmasters Club in Ermita, Manila. A kind old lady heartily welcomed me into the club.

I learned Toastmasters International is a global organization with thousands of clubs composed of people who want to become better communicators and leaders. I learned that various prominent people — from politicians to socialites to beauty queens and actors — are members of Toastmasters. But it was knowing Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) is a Toastmaster that sealed the deal. Lolllll.

A typical meeting at Maharlika Toastmasters Club. Photo: Maharlika Toastmasters Club

At first, I had some difficulty delivering my speeches because of my tight schedule (I still worked in Makati then). But when I began teaching at UP Manila (which was near the club), I began to amble through my Toastmasters journey at a steady pace. What did I begin to love?

  • Veteran members are always helpful, and the mentoring culture can be quite strong. There are members who, without being asked or without anything to receive in return, gently provide you with tips and advice — how to organize your speech more coherently, how to avoid using too many gestures, how to evaluate a speech constructively. And these same people humbly receive feedback, too, during the meeting.
  • Leadership opportunities abound. If you have never led a group of people from various professions and temperaments, Toastmasters is the place for you to learn leadership — particularly leading a volunteer organization. For me, the most challenging aspect of leading at Toastmasters is motivating a team of volunteers (no one gets paid, and sometimes work extends to becoming like a full-time job). The question always was: “How do you motivate this person to work efficiently out of good will?” I figured it takes more finesse to motivate someone without the threat of getting axed or any financial reward.
  • The circle of friends I gained is priceless. Before I joined Toastmasters, I was just slightly friendly — the type who’d wait to be introduced, and not introduce himself (because that might intrude into other people’s bubbles of Daryl-less bliss). But probably because of the introductions I necessarily had to do to guests during club meetings, I ended up opening up more and even joining my clubmates to drinks and other socials. I suppose Toastmasters made me so much friendlier than I ever was. (I still need my me-time, though!)
  • The network of members is expansive. This opened up for me various opportunities professional and personal. And I think it’s simply because of the sheer diversity and number of people you’ll eventually meet in the organization.
We conduct yearly conventions where we select the Philippine representative to the World Championship of Public Speaking. This one was in Davao City last April. Photo: Division L Toastmasters

I will not spend more of your time with the other reasons. But those above are, essentially, what keep me going to Toastmasters meetings…and more.

I’ve just ended my stint as a division director at Toastmasters. That service came as a way of giving back to the organization and of challenging myself and improving my leadership skills. I had to advise 19 clubs and a few prospective clubs. In the end, I saw the imperfections of Toastmasters. But that didn’t lessen my regard for the organization. People are imperfect, and so am I. My challenge now is encouraging ways to overcome the organization’s weaknesses and enhance its strengths. And I guess that’s what it will have to be when it comes to loving an organization: you discover what’s lovable, then embrace it; find its dirt and holes, then try to improve it; and if there’s resistance, love it all the same.

Meditations minus the ommm part

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3 morning activities for a more productive day

There’s a half-hour slot in my morning schedule I call “Meditations” (thanks, Marcus Aurelius!).

It’s composed of three meditative activities which I now consider pillars of a productive day: mindfulness meditation, mental prayer, and journaling. Without these, it seems, I’d feel my day quite directionless, limbo-like, chaotic. You might want to try them.

Mindfulness meditation — or, simply, meditation — involves closing my eyes and becoming conscious of my bodily processes — my breathing, primarily, but also how the muscles on my face relax, and those on my neck, my shoulders, my torso, and so on. (No ommms, though, because that’s too much weirdness I can take.) I normally use Simple Habit to do this; it’s an app with great meditations addressing various issues like stress and insomnia, but also mundane stuff like getting a cup of coffee or taking a break from work or getting ready for sexy time lol. Meditating normally takes 10 minutes.

 

 

Mental prayer is simply reading some Gospel passage and a short commentary on it, and then talking to God about it — or other things like wishing the day would be great or complaining about getting neither Argentina nor Spain nor Germany(!) in the World’s Cup’s Final Four. I use iPray with the Gospel to help me with this. Time allotted: 10–15 minutes.

 

 

Journaling is, of course, just writing down (in my bullet journal) a more coherent version of my thoughts — my hopes and dreams and frustrations and disappointments, but also confusions and conundrums and manifestations of the Inside Out characters. Towards the end, there’s a part where I list three people I’m grateful for (and why), then two things I look forward to in the day (normally my day’s key goal and, often, “sleep”), and finally one lesson I get from Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic book. Allotted time: 10 minutes.

One or two of these may not be useful to you. But I suggest you try at least one. A little introspection — getting to know yourself — goes a long way in cultivating friendship with yourself…and others as a result.

What I learned from tracking my activities for 60+ days

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Free image from Stocksnap. I wish I had this watch, though!

I started tracking my activities in mid-April, after reading an article about the benefits of doing so. The article, ultimately, preached about self-awareness.

Guess what I learned from the exercise. Self-awareness, exactly.

I used an old-school tool: MS Excel. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to do this, given my long history of not following through with my “expense accounts” (expense tracking I used to do back when I was a good boy).

I had a rough start, but after several times beginning again, I finally caught second wind and the process began to ease into the peaceful realm of Minimal Effort. After all it’s really simple: just describe what you do every half-hour, just so:

In case you’re wondering, Self-Admin is anything from making my bed to meditating to deleting apps I have stopped pretending to like.

And what did I discover?

  1. I wasted so much time trying to decide what to do…and then decided not to do anything. Weekends and free time can be the worst.
  2. I value sleep, devoting up to 32% of the day to sleeping time. That’s about eight hours every night! Sometimes I get tempted to think this is very lazy of me. I mean, isn’t it a badge of honor to sleep late and get only four, five hours of sleep? Thank God, Ariana Huffington had a nervous breakdown due to exhaustion and sleep deficit — and then wrote about the ordeal — or else I wouldn’t have gained the habit of getting enough rest as a competitive advantage. I mean, dude, you’ll be able to work double and more deeply if you’re not sleepy or groggy during the day. (I love you, Ms Huffington.)
  3. I made sure Quality Time with the girlfriend is a considerable slice of the pie. This is the secret to a happy life lol.
  4. Keeping a running list of activities helps you to steer clear of the rocks: Shopping, Chill, and Worry (yep, I had to put that in because I sometimes find myself swimming/drowning in it).
  5. It gives me a clearer picture of what I’ve actually done. I can judge more wisely whether my day has been productive or not, and whether it has created value or produced meaning in my relationship with others.
Yummiest data representation — a pie graph!

This is low-key OC, but this can be helpful if you want solid data on something as ephemeral as time. Try it. Here’s a template coz I’m helpful like that. Message me in 30 days maybe?

What’s great about keeping a bullet journal

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The back cover of my bujo goes straight to the point.

I once had trouble understanding Ryder Carroll’s explanation of the Bullet Journal method, which he invented.

So I tried it out.

Behold, the impression of complexity was just a phase. When I started creating my modules and went on with my daily logs (including my notes of feelings and ideas and late-blooming teenager-y angst lol), I got hooked.

It was January. Now, six months later, my humble, tattered bujo is ready to be shelved. It is filled to the last page.

I cannot say I’ve been super-productive the whole time I was using the bujo system. I can vouch, however, for its service as a life organizer, a soul mirror, an aide-memoire.

 

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I try! 😝

So what’s so great about keeping a bujo?

  1. You can progress through the journal logically (that is, from page 1 then 2 then 3 and so on). No need to segment the book into various sections (except the index). This is important to me because I dislike blank pages, which are a waste if not filled in. The logical progression also makes for easy navigation among the pages. And if you get lost, then there’s the index for you, bud.
  2. A physical — and I mean tangible — manifestation of my thoughts is kind of…romantic and esteem-boosting. It makes you think you’re writing a book, or leaving an artifact for the historians of 2200 AD.
  3. It strikes between final and tentative. Final because your pen’s ink isn’t erasable — and tentative because, hey, you can still strike through your mistakes! It’s forgiving, and it’s how we should be to others and to ourselves, too.
  4. There’s something charming about creating your habit trackers or monthly log at the end of each month: it’s a continual call to begin again, to be young once more, somehow.
  5. It’s organic, duh. You can burn your bujo and leave nothing in the environment except ash, which symbolizes the transience of life and the supremacy of the soul. Bam!

If you’re interested to know more about bullet journaling, head on to bulletjournal.com. Don’t let the fancy designs on Pinterest intimidate you. You can keep your bujo minimalist like I do. Freedom and simplicity is the name of the game: do what works best for you.