Year in Review ~ 2016

by Julia


2016 has been a year of many important changes. I quitted my job No. 1 in order to pursue a career as an archivist, and for this reason I started an internship at the Florence State Archives in late July – while the significant other has started working in Scotland and he moved there (here) at the end of June.

In 2016 I turned 30, which is a kind of scary but also thrilling number.

It has also been the year of many personal crisis and of my final waking up. Now I know much better what I have to do in order to achieve my personal and professional goals. It feels a lot like a new chapter of my life is ready to start, now that I finally succeeded in letting go of the many things that were weighting me down.

2016 has been the year my blog finally started to get going. I’ve had my slips and hiatuses of course, but overall since January I’ve been able to keep it up on a decent level. In my busy busy life even finding time to sit down and write a couple of paragraphs has proven hard, sometimes almost impossible. This is something I hope will change in 2017, but surely a lot of planning and organisation skills will be necessary.

This year I also started practicing yoga, though not with the continuity I was hoping for [for various reasons]. Throughout the year I’ve tried to bring on the healthy project I started in 2015, though this year as well it has not been one of my main priority. I need [because I want] to focus more on that during 2017.


As far as appliances go, In 2016 I’ve been using the same devices I already own: my 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro, my4th generation iPad and my 5-and-a half-years-old iPhone 4. Unfortunately I think I’ll be forced to replace the latter with a new model as now even apple Notes and Reminders are no longer synced on the iPhone 4, but I’m really annoyed because the hardware is still perfect and I don’t like either the iPhone 6 size or the iPhone 7 jack matter.

For what apps are concerned, 2016 has been the year of great discoveries and experiments. After having known many them for quite some time, I decided to try out something and see how they were going to work in my system. As task manager I’ve been using both Wunderlist and Todoist, MindMeister and Simple Mind as mind maps applications, Trello, Kanban and Meister Tasks as project managers. In the first part of the year I’ve also been using extensively Evernote, which is not a new entry as it has been in my system for many years now, but I recently switched to OneNote as I found myself in deep disagreement with the latest Evernote’s customers policies. I don’t use all of these apps together now, especially since many of them are aimed at the same kind of function; survivors are Wunderlist, Trello and MindMeister for the moment, and I’ll surely talk about these in the future.

Other random apps that I have used throughout the year are Menelao (which is actually an acquaintance of mine since my London years) for finances and PepperPlate for everyday recipes/work lunch ideas/meal planning. I have to admit that in either these fields I have not found my ideal system so I’m still on the lookout for something meant to last.

All time favourites are Shoebox for photos backup, Apple Notes and Apple Reminders, CardStar for scanning the barcodes of my membership cards, and Toggl Timer for tracking time entries. Oh and ShopList for grocery shopping of course. Apps that I downloaded but I have yet to try properly are Notion for managing emails, LiquidText for reading pdfs and taking notes and Handle to manage emails, calendar and tasks at the same time. On a non-app note, I’ve been using LittleLogs in order to track my daily achievements in the last couple of months and I think I’ll stick to it during 2017.

Browser of choice: Mozilla Firefox. Music Player: iTunes.Video Player: VLC.


I though that after 3 years of experience in the planning world I had become, if not an expert, at least a planning initiate – WRONG. I’m very sorry to say that, despite a couple of things that turned out pretty good, 2016 has been a fail planner-wise. I’ve not failed at planning per se like it happened in the past [I would start on Jan 1st full of good intentions and by the end of February I would have given up on planning altogether], but I have failed in finding an integrated system for my current needs.

This is my planning history for 2016 [as short as possible]

  1. started with self-designed DIY Fish inspired monthly+weekly+daily inserts in my Filofax Original A5 in Fuchsia. It never really worked, way too much blank space left as I didn’t have all those things to write down after all.
  2. re-arranged the system in my Boston A5 slim in Purple with a simple monthly spread followed by grid pages for bullet journaling. This turned out pretty well.
  3. as the end of August approached, I started missing the habit of planning on a weekly basis. My internship required much more planning activity in order to keep everything under control + I wanted to downsize to light up a bit my everyday carry tote. So I went back to Personal size with my Filofax Original in Fluoro Pink, using 2016 Filofax weekly pages and a small Muji notebook for daily bullet journaling. As hilarious as it may sound, I discovered I didn’t really know what to do with my weekly pages.
  4. at the beginning of November I discovered the StrikeThru system [I actually already knew it, but it didn’t resonate with me at that time] and I started using that instead of bullet journaling. This has been the only system that has worked wonders for me, making clear what I was doing wrong with my planning and how I could improve. Unfortunately I’m not using it at the moment as I’ve not been able to find a place for it in my current system.
  5. at the end of November I started using a Muji bound planner, which is structured exactly as the Moleskine week on one page + notes. I’m still struggling to fit in here as for some mysterious reason I’m no longer able to use weekly pages properly after having used them intensively for three years. It’s a work in progress but I understand I need more time to adjust.

In between all of this madness there has also been a lot of experimenting with apps and digital planning systems [Evernote, Todoist, Wunderlist, Trello and so on], which of course has not made things any easier. Though I have to say I don’t really regret anything as this experience has been a real eye-opener for me – both in terms of what I need and what I don’t need in my system and which tools (either paper or digital) are best to attain certain kind of workflows. I still have a lot to learn in terms of time and tasks management but I can proudly say that through my errors I’ve made a lot of progresses this year.

A thing I’m quite proud of is that in 2016 I started journaling again after a few months of hiatus. Sometimes I wonder where all this journaling will bring me, but I’d lie if I said I don’t enjoy starting my day with both planning and journaling, so it’s a habit I count on bringing with me next year.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, PhD)

This is one of the field I have experienced the maximum level of change during this year. For Chinese, 2016 has been an important year of trial. It has marked the beginning of my self-study process after having taken 3 courses at Florence Confucius Institute between May 2014 and June 2015. I have used many different resources, including a couple of textbooks [Il cinese per gli Italiani, Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar], Chinese grammar wiki, ChineseClass101, Remembering Simplified Hanzi and recently Memrise. Self studying any language is definitely not a piece of cake, though I think it is be much more rewarding than simply passing a class test. I still need to figure many things out, but the goal of passing HSK in February 2017 is a good chance to evaluate my progresses and see what direction my study should take next year.

For Japanese and PhD study I have to say that I decided to put these projects on a halt. I didn’t want to and I refused to do so for a very long time; I couldn’t bring myself to let go of two projects that were so close to my heart. But now it seems like 2016 was an entire year of preparation for my moment of epiphany in which I finally felt ready to face my difficulties and move on.

I read somewhere [I hate that I don’t remember where, could have been Trello blog]  a sentence that stuck with me, whose meaning was basically that pausing certain projects means creating spaces for the more important ones. Of course I cannot say that Japanese and Anthropology are no longer important to me, they’re simply not a priority anymore. An I discovered I can live with that, which is amazing.

Books, TV Series, Drama and Music

A good thing I can say about 2016 is that compared to the last 4/5 years I spent a lot more time doing the relaxing activities I love the most. I’ve completed my GoodReads challenge with 27/25 books and in general I’ve worked in order to cut out in my schedule some me-time for reading sessions.

As for the best book of 2016, well, I don’t think I’m able to just pick one. Cecilia Dart-Thornton was a nice surprise I had at the very beginning of the year. The III-Made Mute had been sitting on my shelf for some good 6/7 years and it was pleasant to discover a good, well-thought and well-panned fantasy story. The Neapolitan series was another impressive discovery of this year, together with Marion Zimmer Bradley and her Avalon series.

For what concerns dramas, I’m sorry to say that after a good start in January and February, I didn’t conclude much in 2016 in terms of series watched. One of the main reason has been the undertaking of Love Check Charge [still have to write the review] which was 78 episodes long and took me forever to finish. For some weird reason after that I felt kind of drained of my drama energies and didn’t accomplish much. Hope to have a better course of action during 2017 because I love dramas and I find that they are often a soothing alternative to American TV series. For the best 2016 drama [and one of the best ever so far] the winner is definitely Hello Monster/Remember Me. Amazing story, amazing cast, superbe OST!

In terms of TV series, well, I don’t think I need to say that the best of 2016 has been Stranger Things [another one that has entered the list of the Best Things Watched Ever]. I loved everything about that and I’ve been impatient since August to watch season 2. Other TV series I’ve been watching during this year, well, they’re all very classic: Friends, Heroes, The Good Wife, That 70s Show, The IT Crowd, Happy Endings, The 100, Cold Case [which is mostly a re-watch], and more recently Gilmore Girls and Modern Family.

The only anime I watched were Saint Seya – The Lost Canvas and Gurren Lagan, and I have yet to finish both of them. I would love to start watching anime regularly again in 2017, together with movies. I’ve seen a couple of good things on Netflix in terms of anime as well so that could be a nice starting point.

Finally in terms of music, my go-to radio of this year on Apple Internet Radios have been my all-time favourite Wicca Radio + 2 new entries, Ambient Art Sound and ThinksPagan. The are all ambient/wiccan/pagan radios but they broadcast very different sub-genres which makes them the perfect mix to listen to throughout the day according to my different activities.

Bands of the year are definitely Imagine Dragons, Le Cassette and Timecop1983. And this is my 2017 Songs Chart based on how many times I’ve played them while driving in my car 😀

  1. Kids – Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
  2. Tiptoe – Imagine Drangons
  3. Lose it – Little Jackie
  4. I Remember You – Dear Cloud
  5. Come Back – Timecop1983
  6. Tonight – Le Cassette
  7. So Alive – Love & Rockets
  8. Intro – The XX
  9. Ghost – Jamie Lee Kriewitz
  10. Riptide – Vance Joy
  11. Trouble – Lindsay Buckingham
  12. You are you are – Le Cassette
  13. Alive – Empire of the Sun
  14. Goodbye Kiss – Kasabian
  15. J’ai Cherché – Amir
  16. Tears in the Rain – Timecop1983
  17. Invisible – Alison Moyet
  18. Poles Apart – Pink Floyd
  19. Frederick – Patti Smith
  20. 我不以为 – 丁当
  21. Drive – Halsey
  22. Goodbye – George Hu
  23. 7 years – Lukas Graham
  24. Turn Back the Clock – Johnny Hates Jazz
  25. Lovey Dovey – T ARA
  26. It’s time – Imagine Drangons
  27. If I Were Sorry – Franz
  28. That Good Good – LuHan
  29. Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins
  30. My Song Knows What You Did in the Dark – Fall Out Boy
  31. Lighthouse – Nina Kralji
  32. No Make Up – Zion T.
  33. Una perfecta excusa – M0dena City Ramblers
  34. Bagging for Threads – Banks
  35. Policy of Truth – Depeche Mode


2016 has been a good year, because it has been a year of change. I know many people fear change and the consequent feeling of uncertainty and instability, and I myself as an OCD person would feel destabilized at times. But since I came back to London I’ve been feeling like I was going nowhere, stuck in a limbo I felt impossible to escape. In that condition every possible change was more than welcome. I’ve had my hard times this year but for once they helped me growing, as I was forced to face things I was unconsciously avoiding. And I’m finally looking forward the new year as it is going to bring even more changes and innovations towards the life I wanted for myself. 2017 goals will be in a separate post, for now, happy New Year to everyone in every part of the world ヽ(∩。∩゛ヽ) 祝你好运!