I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been working on a secret project. I’m delighted to announce the launch of Haven Education, an educational consultancy and writing coaching service. Please take a look at the site and our offerings — I’d love your feedback if you have any and your help spreading the word. The company’s based in Switzerland, but I am accepting clients internationally.

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With a new year comes new systems. In addition to reading process posts, I love hearing about how friends and colleagues organize themselves.

I’m a bit of an organization junkie. You probably can’t tell from my desk (there are piles, but they are ordered piles!), but I can’t live without my systems.

This year I’ve seen two come up repeatedly: bullet journals (Kate Messner blogged about hers here) and the Passion Planner. Both are paper based and look comprehensive and pretty wonderful.

I was a paper planner, but I switched to Workflowy a while ago, and in the fall switched again to Evernote. While I enjoy paper planning, I like having a system that’s on my computer and phone and backed up. I live in mortal terror of losing my planner, and it’s much faster for me to set recurring tasks and to update and change things as I go virtually rather than having to copy and write everything out by hand.

My Evernote system was initially set up based on a Lifehacker post about The Secret Weapon, a GTD system built in Evernote. It looks really complicated, and it’s much more involved than I need. I tried it out for a few weeks and simplified as I went along until I had something that fit how I work.

I write and capture everything in Evernote — from grocery items as they occur to me to links for blog posts to notes for our family & friends newsletter. Evernote lets you attach images and PDFs, so if I need to fill out and submit a form, it gets attached to my to do so that I don’t have to track it down.

I’m pretty vigilant about daily and weekly planning, but as I looked through the bullet and passion planner systems, I realized that something big was missing from what I’ve been doing: reflection. My system didn’t leave time or create a space to evaluate how the week or the month had gone. I tend to set annual goals in the form of resolutions, but I check in on them at the beginning and end of the year and do my best along the way to keep those goals in mind, but my approach hasn’t been particularly mindful.

So I’ve added a layer. Now I have my reflections and evaluations in my journal and start each week and each month by looking back at what worked, what didn’t, and why in the previous time period and set some goals for the next one. I also loved one element of the passion planner — the ongoing list of good things that happened. For a while I was posting gratitudes here, but it didn’t make sense to post a gratitude every day, especially when some are very small or very personal.

Now I’m setting aside a page in my journal each week for that week’s good things and gratitudes. Sometimes it’s as small as an excellent scone and cup of coffee. Other days it’s something bigger, like the baby’s first tooth emerging. And now, on particularly challenging days, I read through some of these pages (which are, of course, indexed in the back of the journal for easy retrieval!) and smile and know things are okay, and I can move onto whatever is next.

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2014 had a bit of a crazy end — we’d booked a special Christmas trip, not knowing if this would be our final one in Switzerland, and the night before we were supposed to leave, the baby came down with croup. It was too late to cancel, and we were sad about the sick baby, missing the trip, and losing out on hotel costs, but we had a Christmas miracle.

A friend took over the first night of our reservation. The pediatrician cleared the baby for travel, who recovered from croup within 48 hours. We were able to book a last minute room in Zermatt, so we ended up having our two nights away, one on top of a mountain, and the second looking up at it.

Since the 1800s, tourists have been coming to Switzerland to experience the sublime. Last summer, for my birthday, we went to Lauenensee, where we encountered this:


 (Click through for a larger version)

Spectacular, right? That was summer sublime. For Christmas, we went for winter sublime. We stayed at a hotel on top of Mt. Gornergrat, which is 3100 m. / 10000 ft. high. It looks upon the Matterhorn (first panorama includes the Matterhorn and our hotel) and is surrounded by 29 4000 m. peaks, including the Monte Rosa glacier and massif. Monte Rosa (second panorama) is the tallest mountain in Switzerland.



Andrew took a photo of me taking a photo of the Monte Rosa glacier. He was reminded of a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, which is a classic, Romantic piece that evokes the sublime.


2014 was an intense and unexpected year. We had a baby, which was expected, but no one can ever prepare for how life will change and when. We’ve become much better at adjusting to whatever happens, but I did not expect an extended mid-year sleep regression, which threw everything off for me, especially my novel revision. I also expected that we’d have a spot in a local crèche by now. Instead, I’m juggling and doing my best to make things work.

We’re supposed to spend our first day of the year setting the tone for the remainder of the year. In that case, I’m off to a good, productive start. Today is our laundry day in our apartment building, and after missing last week due to travel, I ended up running five loads. I also made a few types of baby food, journaled, finished a book that I started last night, wrote this blog post, and did some work on the secret project. This on top of taking care of the baby all day and having a morning dance party, knocking over towers of blocks, and Skyping with grandparents. It’s 9 pm. I just need to sneak in some writing time before bed, and we’re good.

Figuring out how to travel with the baby was one of our biggest wins of 2014. I’m glad that we were able to explore a few new places. This year is about productivity and reclaiming brain and art space.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?