Living the Dream – 72. Plotting and Planning

Autumn is for plotting and planning. Ideally, the New Year is when new chapters begin, and to make that happen, I need to get going in November.


This is the perfect time to lock myself into the office/cave. The days are getting shorter, the evenings cooler, it’s the perfect time to bury myself in my notebooks. Except, Cyprus weather hasn’t read the script. Having had a try at autumnal, the days have decided to revert to summer. There’s not a cloud in the sky, the temperatures are soaring and the beaches are busy again. This is a problem that I am delighted to have, particularly after the trials of last winter.


In terms of plotting and planning, I look at several areas. The consulting business, the notebook business, the podcast, this site, the home and myself.


Without getting formal, I put aside time to review the year in each area. What went well, what didn’t. I identify objectives for the next year. Once we get to that funny week between Christmas and New Year, I document all this, but for the moment, I just make notes.

During 2019, I have posted three times a week on the site. Each post being 300-700 words. So, one or two thousand words a week. Work on the novel has been sporadic, to say the least. Hmmm…that needs looking at.

As it happens, my Wednesday posts have just reached the end of a series, “Going Solo”. I’m fairly certain that I am not going to leap straight into another series there – hell, perhaps I could edit 500 words of the novel instead? Now, there’s a revolutionary concept.

The Friday posts, of which this is one, will continue, but perhaps with a wider scope. On Monday’s, I post for Members, and I will continue to do that, perhaps tightening the focus there, moving back towards the novel.


I love this planning and plotting process. I do have to be careful though, as I have a tendency to forget things. Like the fact that I am married. I recently produced myself a week schedule, that managed to incorporate everything that I wanted to get done on an ongoing basis. It was a seven day schedule, including evenings. I think Mags and I got to spend a couple of waking hours a week together, during a quiz. Whoops.

The schedule

How will my schedule settle? Too early to say. That’s why I start the process in November. One thing for sure, I need to put aside time for writing. If I don’t, then not enough gets written.

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My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Working Tools – 4. Bullet Journal

You may know that I run Nero’s Notes, where I sell notebooks and the odd bit of stationery. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that I use quite a lot of notebooks myself.

I am resolved for 2019 to keep a bullet journal, or indeed, a series of them. If you are not familiar with #bulletjournal, where have you been? That aside, go check out this excellent overview from the man that created the system. You can read about my earlier experiences with the journal here.

Quarterly System

I have decided to use one book for a quarter, at which point, I will move on to a new one, regardless of how much space remains in the current book. This is a departure; typically I flog a notebook until every single page is covered.

Why the change?

It’s all related to goals and flexibility. I do like a bit of goal setting. Traditionally, I draw up a list of annual target and goals for each area of my life, the hope being, that these will guide my every action throughout the next twelve months. It may be my age, it may be the scale of my endeavours, or it may be the modern world – but I now find that twelve months is a very long time. Therefore, I’m splitting the year into quarters, and setting goals for thirteen weeks rather than fifty two.

I will still consider the outcomes that I’m hoping for at the end of 2019, but in terms of actionable items, I’m going to focus on just the first quarter. As that quarter comes to an end, I’ll conduct a review and set targets for the next three months. There is nothing original about this approach – I’m sure that I have read it in several different places and guises. However, I’m just co-opting the time frame, in an effort to keep my goals relevant to my reality.

My goals are more diverse now, than they have ever been. There’s Nero’s Notes, Lime Training and Consultancy, this website, 1857 and my novel – just in the ‘Work’ sphere. Breaking things down into quarters forces me to focus on small, “doable” actions. This, I hope, will help ensure that my goals do not overwhelm me and become irrelevant.


A part of the bullet journal method involves a process of migration. From day to day, month to month or even journal to journal. This is a kind of enforced review and will keep reminding me of the goals set. That is not to say that they cannot change, only that if they do it will be something that happens with intention, rather than by default.

Furthermore, having lots of pages available in each journal will encourage me to make more notes. This is in part inspired by the concept that when looking to have a good ideas, a great way to get going is to focus on having lots of ideas. Joey Cofone, CEO and co-founder of Baron Fig, reminded me of this on a productivity podcast that I listened to just the other day.


You can find my 2019 set up here – and I will continue to update here on the site (category Journal), for better or worse.


Living the Dream – 1. Can we do it?

Living the Dream

Three hundred and twenty six days of sunshine per year, a laid-back lifestyle and some decent golf courses. That’s living the dream.

My wife, Margaret (Mags) and I are going to test that statement. Thirteen weeks from now, we are upping sticks, leaving the UK and moving to the Island of Aphrodite, Cyprus.

Exciting? You bet.

The really lucky people might be able to jump on their private jet, check into a five star hotel for a year and start having grapes dropped into their mouth by willing servants. For most of us however, it’s not quite as simple as that. It takes planning.

Mags and I are designing a life. We are putting together an action plan for living the dream.

My my. There’s a lot to this emigrating malarkey.

Some decisions have made themselves. My Mum and Dad retired to Cyprus and built a wonderful home. They enjoyed several happy years there together and after my Dad passed away, my Mum stayed on another fifteen years before returning to England.

Nevertheless, Cyprus isn’t terribly handy for a weekend bolt-hole. Depending on the wind direction, the flight is between four and a half and five hours from England. Add in the land transfers and the mandatory waiting around of modern air travel, and you are pretty much writing off a full day each way.

To really live the dream in Cyprus – we need to move there.


Did we want to? Could we? How would we make it work? What are the pros and cons?

On this blog, I’ll log how we arrived at the decision to move and how we went about turning that decision into a plan.

I’ll post weekly; covering both the logistical challenges of living the dream and how we intend to craft and finance the lifestyle. Look for the category, ‘Living the Dream’.

Follow along. 😁