Category: Cindy’s Journal

A mish-mash of thoughts, ideas, and reflections about my life, the people around me, and beyond.

My Minimalist Bullet Journal: January 2019 Plan With Me

Happy New Year!

For the last two years now I’ve made bullet journaling posts/videos describing my process when it comes to creating my bullet journal spreads. It’s been cool looking back at my posts from 2017 and 2018.

But before we begin, I’ve also created a video showing my process of bullet journaling (if you’re not interested, just read on! It covers the same information):

I’m still using my 2018 bullet journal (the notebook itself–250 pages is pretty hard to finish for someone like me!), and since I plan by semester (and January is in between semesters), I have yet to make another future log/yearly spread set ups. I am close to finishing this bullet journal, so when I go back to school, I am planning on getting a new one and set up for the semester then (and that’d be a separate post!)

I can’t say that in the two years I’ve gotten into more elaborate bullet journal spreads, but I do have more things to keep track of nowadays. I have also gotten simpler as the time went on; I just can’t find myself committing to spending a lot of time on setting my spreads up (that is, unless I have time to spare). I LOVE the spreads I see on Youtube and Pinterest, but it’s just not possible for me as a busy student.

So here it is, the bullet journal pages I chose to do for January 2019:

Cover Page

I kept my cover page for January 2019 quite simple, just the date written out with my Tombow brush pen. I also lined the edge with some Muji washi-tape, as I usually do with my months.


I chose to go with a simple timeline layout (instead of grid/calendar layout) because of the basic fact that it’s just simpler to set up. During the school year, I also break it up into personal/school columns (with the dates in the middle of the page), and in the summer into personal/work columns. For January, since I’m on break for most of the month, I just kept it simple.

This page would include everything from events, deadlines, to things I want to remember:

The lefthand side of the page is of course, pretty self-explanatory: “Weekly Overview” breaks down events during the week further, “Focus” refers to my goals of the month, “Waiting On” allows me to write a list of things I’m waiting on… (this could be responses to emails, payments, etc.), and finally, because I have some time this month, I’ve also opted to devote a section to my reading goals.

The “Me” Specific Pages

One of the best things about the bullet journal system/bullet journaling is that you can pick a goal or focus you have in mind for the month and wrap your monthly set up pages around it. For me, I have a few specific goals and things I want to keep track of in January, and that includes:

  1. My post-graduation job/opportunity search
  2. Cleaning/Decluttering various parts of my room (both at home and my dorm room at school)
  3. Keeping up with this blog
  4. Packing for school and my trip to Asia

And these things are reflected in the subsequent pages of my bullet journal:

In the page directly following my overview page, I have a section dedicated to decluttering/cleaning, and another section dedicated to expenses track (pretty standard for bullet journals):

On the right hand side, I have devoted a page to my post-grad opportunity search, including a check-off for each part of the job application process (cover letter, resume, filling out the application, hitting submit!). I always just find that being able to “check things off” really motivate me to get more things done.

I’ve also devoted an entire page to my blog and a page to my packing list:

Here, again, I’ve used that simple check-list system for each part of the blogging process. And, because I don’t think I’ll be writing more than half a dozen posts in January, I left the rest of the page for brainstorming purposes.

The packing list is simply split up into school, trip, and to buy–it’s pretty self explanatory, and is just a way for me to keep track of things so I don’t forget it!

The next page is something new I’m going to try: A sleep tracker. This has never been relevant to me as I (usually) have pretty good discipline with going to sleep at (semi-)appropriate times when at school. Plus, I’m usually so exhausted by the end of the day that I do sleep at reasonable times after I finish studying. Since getting home for break, I found myself sleeping later and later (usually due to poor reasons such as video gaming). To try to remedy that, I’ve started a sleep tracker, with “goal times” (11pm, 7am) bracketed out. We’ll see how I do…

And finally, because it feels weird to be starting my weekly spreads on an even page, I left the last one blank and labeled it “brain dump”. So I can basically write anything here, and if I had forgotten anything in my monthly spreads, I think I can easily just add it here.

And that’s it! Hope this gives some of you an idea of what you could also include in your bullet journal, and how this system is inherently “goal oriented” and specific to what type of goals you have in mind. Hope everyone has a great 2019–here’s to a productive one!


NYE Declutter With Me–My Craft Supplies!

Happy [almost] 2019!

I’m having a pretty chill night tonight (no parties to go to haha and I’m a happy introvert!), and figured it would be a great time to declutter my craft supplies. I used to be more into scrapbooking, but now I only really bullet journal, so a lot of the supplies I’ve “stocked up” (my boyfriend calls it hoarding) are no longer useful.

The Before

I keep my supplies in three main containers: two drawers, one short (one of the blue drawers) and one tall (the clear drawer), one giftbox/container (I got this from my grandma when I was probably 6 or 7; it used to contain snacks and goodies!), and one small crate (it was an old locker shelf from high school).

As you can see, it looks incredibly disorganized. Look what’s inside though…

The first thing I did was to organize my stickers. I organized them into piles of things that I would use again, and wouldn’t use. In addition, I took them out of their original wrappers. This took care of the small blue drawer, more or less.

Next, I started with the clear bin and started organizing them. Because of scrapbooking, I’ve kept pretty much everything I thought would be interesting for a spread. That resulted in a lot of items that I’ve kept that has some sentimental value but would probably never use in a non-scrapbooking scenerio. I saved some of these items (cards, pictures) and took pictures of some others so I could digitally keep it.

This process honestly resulted in such a large pile of things to throw out! But it also meant that I was almost done: the last part was honestly organizing everything in a way that is space efficient.

I found some old glass yogurt containers to hold beads, ribbons, and loose stickers. I put old scrapbooking materials that I bought in an envelope, and the sticker sheets I wanted to keep in a large plastic ziplock bag.

Then, I placed everything back into their original containers!

The After

Here is the small bin:

Instead of the disorganized sticker sheet from before, I placed my box(es) of washi tape, my stamps, and small sheets of craft paper.

Next, in the larger clear bin, I put the yogurt jars filled with ribbons, beads, and small, loose stickers in, along with the sticker sheets (on the side), old scrapbooking material I bought, and an old scrapbook (I used to be really into the K&Company Smashbooks!) I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was actually a LOT of extra space in this bin.

Finally, in the old snacks drawer, I neatly placed in the rest of my stamps, hole punches, old project life cards, and various stationery items:

And what about the small purple crate? Well there wasn’t a need for that so I kept the few of my keepsakes that I decided to keep in there! In the coming days they will probably migrate into some other containers that I’ve set specifically aside for photos and keepsakes, but for now they’re in the purple container.

And that’s pretty much it! It’s so nice to see all of my craft supplies finally organized in an intuitive way. (Even if it’s a pretty lame way to spend New Year’s Eve…)

Hope you guys all have a great New Year’s Eve! Have fun & stay safe! There will be plenty of posts to come soon.


How I Take Notes for Organic Chemistry

In an attempt to “revive” (ahaha) my blog, I’ve come up with a pretty intense content schedule for myself to keep up with this summer (and maybe beyond). One thing I wish I did better throughout the last three years at Cornell was documenting my experience. But, seeing as I didn’t really know what direction to take my blog before, I don’t really blame myself for not sticking to writing.

Anyway, I came across a couple spreads on Instagram on how individual creators take notes. Something I found quite helpful to myself (as a motivator for going to class and studying) was to take really aesthetically pleasing notes. That’s now my study gram was born (haha!). So I came up with my own spread on how I take my orgo notes! (Click into the picture for full view!)

How I take notes for organic chemistry

This was done on Whitelines paper (review coming soon), which is a beautiful paper with a grey grid that scans in beautifully without the borders. The other materials used is detailed on the sheet itself. This was really fun to do, and if you’re on instagram, be sure to follow me @cindys_notebook

What are some of your note taking methods?

Winter Break Travels: Arabia Mountain

arabia mountain

Not going to lie, it’s been mild in Georgia.

So on the day after Christmas, my family and I (+ one of my close friends, who is practically family which is why this statement is in parentheses) drove down to Arabia Mountain on a cloudy, almost-rainy day for a hike.

Arabia mountain is a massive exposed granite field, kind of like Stone Mountain but without the controversy. The weather was honestly quite nice for the hike (hovering at around the 50s), if it had been hot, we would have had a miserable time as the mountain had little to no shade.

But, my sister did manage to find a tree… and then of course proceeded to climb it.


Arabia mountain also featured some swell looking foliage. This particular shot took me ages to get right:

arabia mountain plants

While I was busy getting that shot, my friend had other ideas–photographic evidence of me taking photographs:

me taking pics at arabia mt

There were a lot more sweet pictures, including sister shots and a cute family portrait, but mostly, we took selfiesselfie on arabia mountain


and of course pretended that I was jumping off the edge of the world:

jumping at arabia mountain

It was mostly just a fun, relaxed trip. The trail wasn’t difficult: though it was uphill, it wasn’t steep, and it was only a total of about 1.2 miles. Because my friend and I were both camera nuts, we ended up spending the majority of the time taking pictures instead of hiking, which of course, made our trip much longer. Still, it was a trip that was easily fit into an afternoon. If you’re considering going to Arabia Mountain, I highly recommend it! Be sure to bring a camera and some friends along with you–the best part of going places is always the conversation.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this low key blog post–more of a photo journal than anything else. What are some of the chill places you’ve been to?


2016 Youtube Algorithm Change: Some Thoughts


The end of 2016 was a bit… tumultuous on the Youtube front, with big youtubers such as PewDiePie threatening to delete his channel when he hit 50 million subs (spoiler alert: he didn’t), complaining about the Youtube unsub glitch and the recent Youtube Algorithm change. Other big creators jumped on the bandwagon, publishing videos about how this Youtube Algorithm change is affecting their views and subscribers, citing an approximate 30%-60% loss in views.

Even after scouring the internet for various sources about this supposed youtube algorithm change, I couldn’t find official confirmation from Youtube that there was, in fact, a change. All I found was this vague update from Youtube from December 5th that more or less denied that there was an algorithm change. I then looked to youtube and various creator videos on what they thought was happening. The responses varied, most agreed that there was an algorithm change, and some creators were more positive about the change than others. Analytics don’t lie, and I do believe that creators such as PieDiePie are experiencing the decrease in views. However, Roberto Blake, in his video explaining the Youtube Algorithm changes, cited that his views had increased, almost doubled.

So, why is that? Here are some of my own thoughts after my internet search and watching/listening to videos from both sides of the “story,” as well as how creators (especially small creators like me) can potentially benefit from this change.

SEO: Title, Tag, Description

Most big youtubers fail to optimize SEO. For example, in one of PieDiePie’s recent videos, titled “Started a Fire in the Building! (Experiment Gone Wrong)“, there were only a handful of relevant tags, none of which really allow me to tell you what the video is about without having first watched it (in case you are wondering where I got this list of tags, it is a chrome extension called VidIQ that allows me to see what tags creators are using for each video):

youtube algorithm change 2016

The numbers next to the tags “pewdiepie” and “pewdie” indicate the order that this video will show up in if those terms were typed into the Youtube search bar. While ranking 1st in the searches for two of the terms is good, there are much better ways to optimize the video tags feature on Youtube.

So, what exactly is PewDiePie doing wrong? Here are just two things:

  • Failure to take advantage of the tag feature to the max–Youtube will allow you to type in 500 characters total for tags. That’s a measly 80 characters up there.
  • Using one to two word long tags instead of actual search terms. Three to four word long tags are the best, and these tags should be terms that people type into the search bar. For example, “hot glowing knife experiment,” or even, “experiments gone wrong” might actually rank higher in Youtube search than “glowing knife” alone or “experiment” alone. These tags should give me an idea of what I’m watching before I even start watching it.

Those are the two things I could see right off the bat. If you’re interested in seeing more on how to optimize your SEO, check out Roberto Blake’s video on Youtube tags and getting more views–he is very knowledgable in SEO and is practically an expert.

This “lack of tagging well” is prevalent amongst big Youtubers (especially those with more than a million subscribers)–they often use one word tags and just their username. As several of the videos I’ve watched mentioned, this Youtube Algorithm change favored videos that are tagged right–the thing is, a platform like Youtube should accurately videos to viewers based on their interests. If videos are tagged right, they have a higher chance of getting discovered by viewers because, for example, if I had searched “how to set up recording studio,” and watched a video from that search, I would subsequently be suggested videos with similar tags such as “setting up recording studio” or “recording studio set up.” Videos tagged with a random username or simply “studio” or “recording” will be less likely to be shown to me.

Another thing big creators fail to do well is optimizing their descriptions–many only put their social media links. These have a very similar impact to tags, and I now am starting to put blog-style posts (albeit, they are shorter) in my description boxes, filling it with relevant and quality information for my viewers, but making sure to repeat the “key phases” several times within. Going back to the recording studio set up example, I might have a few paragraphs in the description going along the lines of, “Hey guys, today I will be showing you guys how to set up my home recording studio. Recording studios can be pricey, but they really don’t have to be! // For my recording studio setup, I use a mxl 770 condenser mic…..” etc. Again, I highly recommend looking at Roberto Blake’s video on optimizing SEO for your youtube channel. Since starting to do it a few weeks ago, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the views of some of my popular videos, including my college admissions story and my recording studio set up videos. The latter is still growing in views by about a hundred a day–and I am not a big channel by any means, I have less than 1000 subscribers.

Times Change…

and so does audience preferences. As Tim from Video Creator mentioned in his video, audiences get bored… if you’re doing something that you’ve been doing since 2009, then it may be time to change some of that. Also, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself or your brand. Audiences might not go for 180-degree, completely drastic changes, but they do want a little something different every once in a while. So experiment… algorithm change or not, this is still what you should be doing. Keep your audience on their toes and release new and exciting content. Casey Neistat, a wildly successful vlogger, quit vlogging because he felt creatively bored and wanted to do something different. He changed up his content before his channel could ever start declining… and his channel seems unaffected by the Youtube algorithm change–they’re still garnering millions and millions of views, some doing even better than pre-Algorithm-change videos from two months ago:

View counts

Combatting the Youtube Algorithm Change

From my research and my own experiences so far, I’m unconvinced that Youtube has made a drastic change to their algorithm. After all, it’s always easier to blame an external force that you have no control over rather than reflect in yourself and think about what you could improve upon. I DO believe that Youtube needs to be more transparent about the changes they make and communicate with their creators, both big and small, about improving the platform. But just in case that the Youtube Algorithm change is a thing that’s affecting you, here’s a couple things you can do (and always should do):

  • Reinvent yourself, your content. It may not work right away. In fact, if your experience ends up being anything like mine, you may even end up losing viewers–but fear not. You will get new ones.
  • Make sure your SEO is done correctly! There are so many resources out there that can help you achieve that. And having appropriate title, description, and tags is the best thing you can do to help your videos get discovered.

I hope this article is helpful. Leave your comments/thoughts down BELOW!