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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Journaling and Time Management

By Dmitri 

Hello again dear readers, 

The weather is getting warmer, more and more people are getting their COVID vaccines (including yours truly), and it feels like life is finally waking up once more. As my partner’s cousin has been telling us over the phone; “We’re in the home stretch now! Just a little longer!”, imagine that with a thick north New Jersey accent and you’ll all be getting the full extent of Charlie’s wisdom. I think this period is a fantastic time for reflection, looking back at the past year + of quarantine and seeing what skills we’ve gained as we all prepare to re-enter society. There’s one habit I’ve picked up since the start of 2021 that I’ve become particularly fond of and would like to share with you all today, journaling and planner making. 

Journaling is a bit of a loaded bag kind of word, it can mean a lot of different things to different people. Online, one can find a plethora of journaling prompts, ideas, supplies, etc. Journaling can be done digitally or physically and it can be very structured or unstructured. It all comes down to the individual and their own needs, so I’d like to take you through the types of journaling I’ve tried both in the past and currently and go over how they’ve worked for me. 

In a pre-pandemic world, I often would carry a pocket-sized notebook with me wherever I went. Nestled in my jacket pocket it was easy to take out and just put whatever I needed onto the page. This was a very loose form of journaling, sometimes talking about how my day went, a major life event, my thoughts, feelings, random doodles, or recipe ideas. Looking back at journals like these can give a very holistic picture of one’s past and stand as quiet time capsules in the back of desk drawers. 

Looking back at the journal I was using my freshman year of college, right before the pandemic hit, I find some notes I took with my current mentor when we first met, plans for train times to get home on time, a few lines on talking to my academic advisor, plans for my final English paper, a sketch for some computer program I was working on, and then complete radio silence. I wasn’t dating my entries at the time but this was probably when quarantine started. It was a depressing time for me like I imagine it was for all of us. I’m kind of sad I didn’t do any writing during the start of the pandemic, but I know at the time I felt like a hollow shell devoid of creativity. 

I’d say a solid 9 months passed where I didn’t do any type of journaling. I certainly kept busy with a whole new type of life and work and learning we all had to get used to. I remember when I was doing my first summer internship I’d occasionally interrupt my notebook with spouts of my non-physics-related thoughts, but I kept these rare and often chastised myself afterward for it. During my current internship, I’ve been much laxer with that, realizing that writing a quick paragraph or two of my thoughts and feelings before I get started on work does wonders in soothing my chronic anxieties. I’m really glad I’ve gotten back into this habit but expressing myself was only half of the purpose my old journaling style served. The other half was time management and never-ending to-do lists, often essential to keep my brain on task and at least appearing like someone who has their life together. Lucky I’ve also gotten back into that while turning the utility knob up to 11. 

For Christmas this past year my partner got me a delightful pocket notebook, the first one I’ve had since the start of COVID. I decided to go all-in with the time management aspect. Buying cheap stamps, inks, and washi tapes online; I’ve been using this journal to make cute weekly planners for myself on top of running to-do lists. It’s definitely taken some weeks to get used to, but now I take a lot of pleasure in spending 15 minutes or so during my Saturday or Sunday looking forward to the coming week and things I need to do. I’ve included a little picture of one of my recent weeks! It’s a habit I’ll definitely be keeping going forward into a post-COVID life. Journaling can be a versatile, fun, and a helpful activity to anyone who picks it up, it’s all about tailoring journaling to your own needs and getting something good out of it. 

Till next time dear readers, 

~Dmitri